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Aggression in dogs

Aggression in dogs, types, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Aggression: Let's first see what we mean when we say that a dog is aggressive.

To a certain extent, we can predict a dog's aggression; but, then dogs also behave in an impulsive manner that can be dangerous and unpredictable. When dogs get aggressive, they can bite, snap, lunge, bark, lift their lips, and growl. Dogs can be aggressive towards each other, or towards their owner or people who drop by at the owner's house.

They can be aggressive towards people in general too.

There are various types of aggression and each type is based on certain conditions. There is food aggression in dogs; fear aggression in dogs; dominance aggression in dogs; inter-dog aggression; sudden aggression in dogs; and, fearful aggression in dogs.

As you've noticed, every type of aggression is for a cause – for food, because of fear, to show who is more powerful and dominating, or because of sudden provocation. Dogs are territorial by nature and this can spark off inter-dog aggression. Dogs can also be aggressive when they are in pain, or have undergone some medical procedure that's still hurting them. Also, some breeds are more aggressive than others.

Symptoms: When a dog is aggressive, it is important to learn the pattern of his aggression, and determine the cause. If the cause can be handled, then one can calm the dog and avoid a dangerous situation. For example, a dog may get aggressive with the same person, or when someone approaches his food bowl or toys. Aggression can generally be identified by symptoms like lunging, biting, eye aversion, or snarling.

Diagnosis and treatment: You must take your dog to a veterinarian, who will check the dog for pathological disease, anxiety symptoms, and fear-based aggression.

If your dog is aggressive towards family members or familiar people, then he needs a stringent behavior modification therapy, and even medicines. In behavior therapy, the therapist or trainer will control or eliminate situations that may lead to aggression. A qualified trainer or vet can work with the pet owners to identify the behavior patterns and trigger points. This way, methods can be worked out to stop or control the aggression. A muzzle may also be suggested for the dog, in case he snarls or bites. Controlling affection and disciplining the dog are also important to eliminate aggression. Vets also use the method of desensitization to reduce the dog's aggressive behavior in response to fear, insecurity and anxiety. Neutering male dogs, and a low protein diet, and physical activity are some of the other ways to control aggression.

  Submitted on June 1, 2010  

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